Arconic – The Road Ahead from WIRED Brand Lab on Vimeo.

“Until we get to that driverless era, we’ve got a slow-moving parking lot that’s working at a glacial speed in major cities literally all over the world,” says Futurist Thomas Frey, founder of thinktank DaVinci Institute.

Fortunately, autonomous vehicles are now “a reality in test mode,” says Luke Haylock, a global technologist at Arconic, a technology, engineering, and advanced manufacturing leader for major industries including automotive.

Eventually, says Haylock, autonomy is going to enable us to have much more leisure time, adding that, in terms of structure and efficiency, “autonomy also means a lower risk for accidents.”

According to an industry analysis firm, getting there will take some time. We can expect 600,000 driverless vehicles on the road by 2025, and up to 21 million by 2035.

At that point, Frey says, “We’ll start seeing the first highways designated as driverless only. This will mean cars can drive much closer together—side by side, front to back—and go much faster, 150 or 200 miles an hour.”

These lanes would be free from the irrational human chaos, the surprise lane switches, blind spots, traffic jams, and road rage responsible for today’s 1-million-plus annual traffic-related deaths.

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